Washington politicians setting the table for the Democratic National Convention

It took me a while, but I am finally a Chris Gregoire fan and political supporter. For me it was personal, as the ex-president of the Black Student Union at the University of Washington, in the early '70s. I saw the racism first hand, and I hope played some small part in changing the culture of the university.

So when I heard that she was the president of a sorority that excluded African Americans, I took it more personally than many. I was already a Ron Sims supporter, but I had no reason to personally dislike Gregoire until that news surfaced.

Now I was also receiving conflicting information from a friend who worked with her in the attorney general's office. He said that she had pushed several state departments to hire minorities for the first time and some black employees saw her as a civil rights activist.

Since that time I have seen her champion making Martin Luther King County an official state county, hire a balanced, racially mixed cabinet, show up anywhere she is asked by members of the African American community and finally support Barack Obama.

I am sure that I missed some other major or minor details, but these are the ones that tipped the scale for me. This woman really enjoys being governor, and it shows.

Her support for Obama, who won every county in the state during the Democratic caucus, was also a demonstration of political astuteness. She has now linked her political issues with his and can inherit some of the new coalition that emerged in support of the Obama campaign.

The alignment of our politicians with Obama and Clinton also gives this state an opportunity to play peacemaker and broker at the national convention. We have two U.S. Senators, former Governor Gary Locke, King County Executive Ron Sims and others aligned with Clinton. Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, King County Councilman Larry Gossett, Norm Rice and others, including myself, support Obama. Why can't these two delegations come together in this state and set the tone for the national debate?

As we move through the final primaries, this thing can get nasty, and the nastier it gets the more likely either Obama or Clinton can lose in November. We don't have to wait until the convention to start this dialogue. Every state should go to the convention with a clear plan in mind on how they will decide who will be our nominee.

This dialogue between our two camps should make some clear rules for how the super delegates from our state will vote. Our primary is over and the people have spoken. We should be able to move pass the propaganda and get ready for the convention.

If we do this right, we may be able to influence other states to start that same internal dialogue. It would be disastrous for us to get to the state or national convention without these preliminary discussions.

If I am late to this party, and the dialogue is already going on, that's good. If its not, we better hurry.

Washington has been on the cutting edge of many key political trends around the country. Most of the time we are right where we need to be, and sometimes, like I-200, we can be duped by campaigns that say one thing but means something else.

We have people in this state from every racial, religious and social group that are recognized on the national level. Our state should be the first to declare a truce with the Democratic in-fighting and set the tone for how we should conduct ourselves as this process winds down. We cannot afford to let campaign staff personnel set the agenda for the party. It's time for the party to set some guidelines for how the staff personnel and supporters should conduct themselves for the duration of this tough campaign.

This state's distance from the beltway is an asset that we should use.

Congratulations to Ron Sims aide, De'Sean Quinn, who was recently appointed to a newly vacated seat on the Tukwila City Council. Quinn is the second African American to serve on the council of a city that consists of more than 30 percent minorities. The seat opened up in November after former council member Jim Haggerton won his bid for mayor. Six people vied for the vacancy, including Brian Kennedy (who defeated Quinn in the August primary, but lost his bid for council to Kathy Hougardy).

Central Area writer and activist Charlie James may be reached through the addresses listed below.[[In-content Ad]]